Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Random Acts of Kindness

Every time there is a mass shooting because of senseless gun violence, it breaks my heart and shakes me. I don’t like guns. I don’t own one. I’ve never held one.
I’ve had one held on me. That was life-altering. Metal is cold, like the cowards who hide behind them while pointing them at another being, as if any life is other than sacred.
If you like guns, I don’t have a problem with you. I have a problem with people who own guns and think they have a right to take lives with them.

What happened in the Orlando nightclub is devastating. Forty-nine people of every age, celebrating life and being alive, gone so quickly. It took me three days to get through all the victim’s names and their known stories. So many couples were taken out together, a mother died saving her son, and a son’s last text to his mother before his death was heartbreaking.
That seismic a loss is too overwhelming to comprehend.

I have new skin from my skin grafts. It’s baby butt smooth and just as sensitive, discovering sensations for the first time again. The emotion that comes over me when I read the names of the dead literally makes that new skin crawl. It’s painful. My new animal skin understands better than my grown-up brain how very <wrong> the loss of people-I-don’t-know is.
My animal skin understands that murder is never okay.

Gun violence. It happened here, in the city where I live, in 2009. We are one of the statistics that come up in the news every time there’s a mass shooting. The shooter had barricaded the back door of the American Civic Association with his father's car, so no one could escape, and went in the front door. I wasn't there. But I was a few blocks away. I lived there and still do.
It was surreal. Shots had been heard. The shooter had gone in through the front door and shot the receptionists, he went into his old classroom and opened fire. He never said a word. He shot four more people than he killed, and he took thirteen lives.
It happened in my city. Blocks from my house. We were downtown when we heard the final news. We were helping to prep for an art opening, but the tone was somber and sober under the sounds of helicopters above. Even at the art gallery, we were just two blocks away.
Thirteen people were murdered. It seemed unbelievable.
I walked home after the all-clear was given. I walked home through the throng of people waiting outside the ACA, waiting to hear the fate of their loved ones. The shock and grief were palpable. Everyone was crying, both those wailing and those stone silent. I didn't feel anger, just stunned unreality. It was so quiet. Everyone was holding each other up.
I barely made it through them and when I did get home, I collapsed. When I <keep hearing> about these mass shootings with semi-automatic weapons, I think about that wave of grief and pain that comes in the aftermath...

What I know of gun violence is that it can happen anywhere. I have an idea of how stunned Orlando is by what happened there. Like everyone, I feel helpless. I am at a loss of understanding.
How could one person be responsible for so much pain? Does it matter why he did it? Will that erase the damage? Will knowing waken the dead? No. There is no answer or discovery the police could uncover that will offset those lives taken, or give peace to the grieving families.
This shadow side of our world is so ugly, it hurts. I have seen the ugly. I have lived the ugly, and in response, I chose love and kindness. It was not easy. It was a hard and difficult journey to get there. But it was a choice. I live it every day.
Violence breeds violence. It is never an answer.

You can't just sit in grief. No one can. Not for long. You have to find a way to transform it into something useful, or you're just multiplying grief, and sending that out into the world. You have to transform it. Transmute it. Turn darkness into light.
I will honor the forty-nine innocent lives taken with forty-nine random acts of kindness for strangers. Each time I do, I will pause and honor another name from the list of the dead. I will keep this journey as a mindful exercise as I work to spread love into the world instead of hate.

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